People who love thrift stores really love thrift stores. And they were gaining in popularity well before Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" made its best attempt to ruin that trend. Data show that in a given year, approximately 16 percent to 18 percent of Americans will shop at thrift stores. Of course, a thrift store is only as good as the people who supply it, and as luck would have it, the well-to-do on Hilton Head and in Bluffton have plenty of fancy stuff they are constantly getting rid of. Shopping the Lowcountry’s secondhand stores requires some foraging skills, but the bounty of castoffs is well worth it.
REASONS TO GO
- They're cheap: First, the most obvious reason we go to thrift stores: bargains. Even though a lot of thrift shops are now armed with the price-checking power of Google, you're still going to find a lot of cheap stuff.
- You might find something valuable for next to nothing: If you haven't experienced this, it is a thrill. Whether it's designer clothing or some prized piece of unknown electronic equipment — at first you can barely hold your excitement. "How has no one grabbed this yet?" you mutter over and over like a crazy person.
- Thrift stores help the community: On Hilton Head Island and in Beaufort, proceeds from most thrift stores benefit charity or provide jobs for people with disabilities or other challenges.
- Thrift stores keep more out of the dump: Obviously the very idea of a secondhand store is eco-friendly. Thrift stores are like humanity's hand-me-downs. That 7-Up logo tee can theoretically be worn forever, or at least until the threads are literally worn through.
- You might make some friends with similar interests: If you like certain clothes, jewelry, records, furniture, electronics, etc., you'll likely run into people who have similar collecting hobbies and perhaps even gain a lead or two on things you're looking for. Granted, some of those people may be a little weird, but that's part of the fun and adventure of thrifting. Anyway, aren't we all a little weird?
- They make you appreciate how far technology has come: We're talking big, bulky CRT computer monitors, Walkmans, original Playstations (all possibly caked in something sticky) — and those are all from more modern items.
- You can create your own style: And you can do it using the past styles of so many others. We're not here to judge the bowling alley computer you have in your living room. Hey, just do you.
- No shortage of costume fodder: The thrift store is the place for nearly any costume party you might be attending. An old guy in a tracksuit? Follow us to the tracksuits and fake mustaches. A hobo princess? Dresses, skirts and tweed jackets are this way.
- Ugly Christmas sweater party? Welcome to the promised land.
- Always good if you're running low on T-shirts: You can't be super picky. But if a tee fits perfectly and you don't mind that it says "Bob's 1st Annual Beer Bowling and Barbecue Blast," then, my friend, you've come to the right place.
- They're the best place to go if you're moving into a new house or apartment: Young people everywhere know the feeling of moving into a new place and realizing on the first night that you don't actually own a single fork or plate to eat with. Well, thrift stores are a great place to find dishes and cookware that has already withstood the test of time, but is also totally affordable. How about a 60-piece set for 10 bucks?
- Thrift stores are great if you're a collector. Books, games, records, mugs, speak 'n' spells, electronic dartboards, scarfs, rings, t-shirts, generic paintings, laserdiscs, boom boxes, VHS movies, ceramic figurines, ties. Where else could you even find these things? Again, no judgment here. Let your collector freak flag fly.
PLACES TO GO
THE LITTER BOX
Address: 46 Old Wild Horse Road, Hilton Head Island
Owner: The Hilton Head Humane Association
What does your shop offer? We offer the widest range of products in our 10,000-square-foot retail facility at the very best prices in a friendly and upbeat environment.
What charity does your shop benefit? The Hilton Head Humane Association
What makes your shop stand out? We are the largest 501(c)(3) nonprofit thrift store in the area, and we are also the only thrift store where you can bring your pet.
Hours of operation: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Contact information: 843-842- 6369
THE BARGAIN BOX
Address: 546 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island
Owner: Bargain Box is non profit volunteer organization
What does your store offer? Donated items, some gently used and some brand new
What charity does your store benefit? Non profit agencies in Beaufort County
What makes your store stand out? We are 50 years old and have wonderland treasures at great prices
What is the most interesting item currently in your store? Items change daily. From an airplane, a car, a baby grand piano, to fine china, signed first edition books and art. It is always a surprise to our customers what they may find.
Hours of operation: 1-4 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday
Contact information: 843-342-2469, www.bargainboxhhi.org
CHURCH MOUSE BOUTIQUE THRIFT SHOP
Address: 78 Arrow Road, Hilton Head Island
Owner: St. Luke's Church
What does your shop offer? We offer reasonably priced clothing, jewelry, furniture, art, home goods, books collectibles, sporting equipment and linens. We also loan medical equipment and offer furniture donation pickups.
What charity does your shop benefit? The Church Mouse is associated with St. Luke's Church on Hilton Head Island and supports the church's missions as well as local outreach and nonprofit charities.
What makes your shop stand out? Merchandising and display. Our sales floor is inviting and beautifully displayed. We have a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers who share their time and talents in so many ways.
Hours of operation: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 1-6 p.m. Thursday
Contact: 843-785-2322, www.churchmousethrift.com